By Leo Flor, Director of King County Department of Community & Human Services
Since the program began in March 2020, King County’s Eviction Prevention and Rent Assistance Program (EPRAP) has distributed $244 million in rent assistance and processed applications from 39,444 households. Consistent with our goal to break the historic pattern of racial ethnic disproportionality in evictions, 76 percent went to heads of household who identify as a person of color.
Providing assistance to thousands in the community was made possible because of an incredible team of community based organizations, property owners, and tenants who’ve worked together under difficult circumstances. We are grateful for the regional effort that has taken us this far and heartened by our partners’ ongoing drive to keep as many people housed as possible.
The new EPRAP Dashboard provides a deeper look at who was served by the program, including money distributed, location and demographics.
For the last three months, the EPRAP program has exceeded expenditure goals, routinely expending $30-$40M per month. Based on the current average assistance amount of about $11,300 per household, we are paying rent for nearly 3,500 households per month.
Unfortunately, with this rate of expenditure we can now forecast with relative certainty when King County will exhaust the rent assistance funds available to us. At the same time, we recognize there is still a staggering amount of need in our community.
Based on the amount of federal and state funding remaining, we have more applications than we likely have funds to assist. To focus on serving as many of the applications that we’ve already received, King County will close the EPRAP program to new applications on February 28. While we are taking this step, we will continue to apply for additional federal and state funding. If we receive additional funds in a large enough amount to pay applications we’ve already received, King County will reopen the EPRAP system for new applicants. Given what we know now, that seems unlikely. Of the applications we’ve already received, 11,245 households are currently assigned to and working with a provider on their rental relief. We expect to complete processing those applications by the end of March. There are an additional 10,943 applications that have pre-registered and have not been assigned to a provider. King County will first apply any additional funds to processing those applications before reopening for new applications.
We are grateful that the State of Washington, including Governor Inslee and the Department of Commerce, plan to contract an additional $66.5 million for the EPRAP program. This additional funding will help serve thousands more applicants, but unfortunately, we still will not be able to serve all pre-registered households, even with the additional $66.5 million. As of last week, the program fully expended funding from the U.S. Treasury. We continue discussions with federal and state leaders to receive additional funds knowing current funding will leave thousands of households behind on rent payments and need assistance.
We have also provided $13 million to the Housing Justice Project, in an effort to pay rent for eligible households at the courthouse. EPRAP and COVID are layered on top of a long-standing eviction crisis. More than 4,000 households a year were routinely evicted in King County before the pandemic, and we know the end of rent assistance funds does not end households losing their home because of their inability to pay their rent.
We are committed to communicating with the region about the status of the program. With the limited resources EPRAP has available, King County will no longer accept new applications through the tenant portal after February 28, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.